Population genetic structures of the mackerel (Scomber scombrus) and chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus) were studied in the Mediterranean Sea. Fragments of 272 bp (S. scomber) and 387 bp (S. japonicus) of the 5′-end of the mitochondrial control region were sequenced from spawning individuals collected off the coasts of Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. High levels of mitochondrial control region haplotypic diversity (> 0.98) were found for both Scomber species. Nucleotide diversity was higher in the mackerel (0.022) than in the chub mackerel (0.017). Global FST values were also higher and significant in the mackerel (0.024, P < 0.0001) as opposed to the chub mackerel (0.003, P > 0.05). Molecular variance analyses showed differential genetic structuring for these two closely related species. There is extensive gene flow between Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean populations of chub mackerel, which are organized into a larger panmictic unit. In contrast, Mediterranean Sea populations of mackerel show some degree of genetic differentiation and are structured along an east–west axis. The analysed eastern Mediterranean Sea mackerel populations (Greece, Italy) are clearly separated from that of the western Mediterranean Sea (Barcelona), which forms a panmictic unit with eastern Atlantic Ocean populations. The genetic structures of both species showed asymmetric migration patterns and indicated population expansion.
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